Kansas News

Original Village People inspiration, Felipe Rose, "still having a blast"

YMCA-IndianIconic 70s group to perform at Riverfest in Wichita

By Ciara Reid, staff reporter

WICHITA - They are instantly recognizable – especially if they’re all together: the cop. The soldier. The construction worker. The biker. The cowboy. The Native American. They are the Village People, the band responsible for some of the most iconic songs – Macho Man, In the Navy, and of course their top hit Y.M.C.A. – and the group will be performing at Wichita’s annual Riverfest on June 3.

    The Village People have been touring the world for decades. The group has already traveled the globe in the early months of 2015; making stops in Bogotá, Colombia; Hong Kong, China; and several performances across Australia, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

    The rest of the year has the Village People performing several shows stateside (including Riverfest, of course), Amsterdam, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, and Puerto Rico. They perform at fairs, cruises, festivals, universities, casinos, and various other events. Almost 40 years after the release of Y.M.C.A, the group is still thrilling audiences around the world.


‘Bears’ with local ties use Jeb Bush website for LGBT causes

30-Apr-15 37By Ciara Reid, staff reporter

LAWRENCE - If you happened to watch The Rachel Maddow Show on Feb. 9, you surely caught the segment featuring C.J. Phillips and Charlie Rainwater, a couple living in Oregon, with family ties to Lawrence, KS. Maddow had them on her show to discuss their website, jebbushforpresident.com.

    How were they able to purchase such a relevant website, since it is heavily anticipated that Jeb Bush will soon announce his presidential candidacy? Turns out, Phillips and Rainwater were ahead of the game, and bought the domain in 2008 for a whopping $8. The couple lived in Austin, TX at that time, and did not like George W. Bush’s stance on LGBT issues. One day, the couple had the idea to purchase the website and use it for LGBT advocacy purposes. They figured it was a sure bet that someday in the future, Jeb Bush would run for president.

    It’s clear from the welcoming page of jebbushforpresident.com that Phillips and Rainwater are using the website for good. The words “We’re all in this together” grace the top of the page, and below it, are the words “so many times we find ourselves in situations where we can’t relate to each other, don’t understand each other, or feel like there’s nobody who wants to listen to our point of view. Let’s change that.”


Fun, fruity, simple, sinful - Steve’s Jams and Jellies thrives

StevesJams-JelliesBy Grayson Barnes

WICHITA - Walking into the production area of Steve’s Jams and Jellies is like entering the storeroom of a Mason jar factory. Cases fill shelves, tables, and carts. However, these jars are full of some 78-plus succulent fruit and berry offerings, like peach, pineapple, cherry, and yes, even strawberry.

    The owners Steve Einsel and Ken Smith started the business three years ago. Both claim it was “an accident.” Einsel loves to cook and was often in the kitchen. An over-productive pear tree provided the inspiration for a flurry of canning one season. Einsel loaded slices into quart jars and began making jams and jellies too. Friends received this initial bounty.


Street performer festival combines with Art Car Parade in Lawrence

30-Apr-15 68LAWRENCE - What do you get when you join a contortionist with a wrought iron VW? Or a one-man band with a telephone car? That’s what will happen in Lawrence on the last weekend of May as the Busker Festival partners with the Art Tougeau Art Car Parade.

    The Lawrence Busker Festival features street performers with such unique skills as fire-eating, acrobatics, magic, sword-swallowing, breakdancing and feats of strength.

    The Art Tougeau Art Car Parade is an equally different event that displays “Art Cars” that are decorated and customized in often outlandish style. Putting the two events together came up after the Lawrence Busker Festival decided to move from the heat of August to cooler dates.


Lead donors helping Riverfest include children, families in need

Riverfest2015-AdultButtonWICHITA – Grene Vision Group and Meineke Car Care Centers have galvanized Wichita Festivals’ Celebrations for a Cause campaign, donating 1,000 Riverfest buttons each and challenging the community to welcome those served by local charities to Riverfest.

    Celebrations for a Cause was reintroduced in 2013 as part of an effort to ensure Riverfest would be an inclusive community event. Businesses and individuals can purchase  Riverfest buttons to be donated to local nonprofits for distribution to their families and clients. Whoever purchases the buttons can designate the organization who will receive them.


Kansas Interests

WSU adds gender identity and expression to nondiscrimination policy

WSU-logoWICHITA - On March 25, President Bardo approved a proposal to add “gender identity and expression” to WSU’s non-discrimination policy. The statement of nondiscrimination now reads:

Notice of Nondiscrimination

Wichita State University does not discriminate in its programs and activities on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, political affiliation, status as a veteran, genetic information or disability.

    It is to be printed on all university publications including catalogs, newsletters, magazines, brochures, folders, posters and flyers. Complaints are to be handled by the Executive Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, (316) 978-3186.


Camp musical explodes at Roxy’s Downtown

John&Kyle WICHITA - The Big Bang, starring John Bates and Kyle Vespestad, runs through May 23 at Roxy’s Downtown. Originally titled Free Food & Frontal Nudity when it premiered at the Cable Car Theatre in San Francisco in 1997, The Big Bang is the absolutely hysterical semi-historical possible mega-production of the history of the universe, from creation to the present, and all set to clever, hilarious and sometimes “jaw-dropping” musical numbers!

    The show finds Boyd and Jed pitching their idea for a Broadway musical of historical magnitude (only $83.5 million to produce and with a cast of hundreds) to a roomful of potential investors - played by the audience. These two  “borrow from” a Park Avenue apartment’s elegant décor to transform themselves into a multitude of impromptu historical characters, effectively creating 200 props and inventively outrageous costumes from just what can be found in the apartment.

    The house opens at 6:30pm for catered dinner from Il Vicino Wood Oven Pizza. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with select Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets are $25 for show only, or $40 for dinner and show. All dinners are plated and served. Call 316-265-4400 for reservations.


Botanica art show to benefit Rainbows United

RainbowsUnited-AmuseBoucheWICHITA - On Final Friday, May 29 from 5-9pm Botanica will host “Amuse Bouche: A Taste of Wichita’s Finest to benefit Rainbows United. The all-ages event is free and open to the public (including free access to the gardens).

    Featured artists include: Christopher Gulick, Dustin Parker, Ian Walker Stewart, Kent Williams, Lisa Rundstrom, Luke Swearingen, Marc Bosworth, Melissa Slates, Nicolette Perez, Patrick Duegaw, Robert Bubp and Wade Hampton. 

    Twenty percent of all art purchased goes directly to Rainbows United and is tax- deductible. Donations can also be made through www.rainbowsunited.org/pages/amusebouche; or by calling 316.558.3406. Further info on the event can be found on  Facebook.


WSU needs LGBT students’ opinions

WSU-logoWICHITA - WSU is hosting its first ever LGBTQ Campus Climate Study to learn more about student experiences on campus and their perceptions of the climate, resources, and services available. All WSU students are invited to participate and provide feedback. The survey takes about 20 minutes and can be found at wichita.edu/lgbtclimatestudy.


Club Boomerang set to open, fill void

ClubBoomerang (2)By Blake Hampton

WICHITA - The new night club that has people all over the Midwest excited is about to open. Within the month Club Boomerang will be ready to entertain in a way that has been missed within the region since the closing of the Fantasy Complex in January.

    The owners, Josh Pfister and Brad Thomison, have been working night and day for months in preparation of the opening night for Boomerang. To make sure that everything is absolutely spectacular, they’ve been looking for the best go-go dancers, DJ’s, cooks, bartenders, and location, and creating the best setting to insure the success of a club that the owners and many others believe is necessary.


National News

White House Responds To Petition On Dangerous Anti-LGBT Conversion Therapy

Petition was launched in response to the tragic story of Leelah Alcorn and calls for help to ban the dangerous and discredited practice

WASHINGTON – Today, the White House responded to a petition with over 120,000 signers seeking “help to ban the practice known as 'conversion therapy.’” The petition came in response to the heartbreaking story of Leelah Alcorn, a 17 year old transgender youth who tragically took her own life after being subjected to the horrifying experiences of the dangerous and discredited practice. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization hailed the White House’s response to the petition.

“The White House statement today is historic and sends a clear message that this dangerous and discredited practice should be relegated to the dustbin of history,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Psychological abuse has no place in therapy, no matter the intention. Conversion therapy uses fear and shame that no child should be exposed to, telling young people that the only way to find love or acceptance is to change the very nature of who they are.”


Lambda Legal Applauds President Obama for Supporting Banning ‘Ex-gay Therapy’ for Minors

obama-lgbt“So-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ devastates LGBT people and their families, and we commend the president for speaking out against these dangerous and discredited practices.”

(Washington, April 8, 2015) –Today President Obama condemned efforts to change sexual orientation or gender identity – sometimes referred to as “ex-gay”, “conversion” or “reparative” therapy – for minors.

In a statement released today, President Obama calls for an end to “conversion therapy,” stating in part, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”


Corporations to State Lawmakers: Stop the Harmful Attacks on LGBT People

open-signWASHINGTON – Today, major corporations signed on to launch a statement by businesses speaking out against an onslaught of anti-LGBT legislation being considered in states around the country. The statement, launched today by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, calls on public officials to defeat or abandon efforts to enact these harmful pieces of legislation. Other corporations are expected to sign on to the growing list in the coming days, reflecting an ever increasing momentum to stop these bills.

In a Sunday op-ed for The Washington Post, Apple CEO Tim Cook decried pro-discrimination laws as dangerous and called on business leaders to speak up. Joining Cook in calling out these laws are long time supporters of equality: American Airlines, Inc.; Apple, Inc.; Levi Strauss & Co; Microsoft Corp.; Orbitz Worldwide; Replacements, Ltd; ​Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.; Symantec Corporation; and Wells Fargo & Company.


Progress Seen in Arkansas RFRA Fight As Governor Hutchinson Halts Bill

ArkansasFlag-rainbowWASHINGTON--April 1, in response to the announcement that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will ask the Arkansas Legislature to recall the discriminatory H.B. 1228, amend it to mirror the provisions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and that he will consider an executive order granting an unspecified set of protections for LGBT state employees, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released this statement from its President, Chad Griffin.

"It's clear Governor Hutchinson has heard the voices of thousands of Arkansans and millions across the nation, and today's decision to temporarily stop this discriminatory law from advancing is a sign of progress.  But the proof will be in the pudding, and we must now wait to see what actions and language Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Legislature put forward in the coming days and weeks. 


COVER LibertyPress-shadow May15

Lucinda Williams at Stiefel Theatre


Wedding Giveaway

Wichita Riverfest 2015

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Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.